The most common reason to sue an insurance company is that they denied your claim in a situation where you believe it was unjust. This may happen after you suffer property damage or personal injury due to an auto accident or other unfortunate event. Particularly when you believe your losses were due to the fault or negligence of another party, it can be frustrating when an insurance company denies you the compensation you deserve.
Insurance companies are bound by an implied covenant of good faith in the United States, which means they must uphold fair dealing with each case and avoid using misrepresentations, excuses, or ambiguous language to deny legitimate claims. Of course, anyone who knows how insurance companies work knows that they don’t make their money by paying out insurance claims. While there are often legitimate reasons a claim is denied, this isn’t always the case. If a company has violated its insurance contract to deny your claim, then you may need to file a bad-faith lawsuit. Lawsuits are drawn out and often difficult to win against insurance lawyers, however, so here are some ways you can ensure your claim gets taken seriously before and during court proceedings.
Seek Medical Attention Right Away
After any car accident or other event where you’re injured, it’s crucial to get medical treatment immediately. This is both for your own safety and to get your medical records in order. If there’s any delay between the event and treatment, the defendant can hurt your credibility by claiming your injuries could have come from another source. Incomplete or inconsistent medical records can also cause you all kinds of problems with insurance companies and in court. If you or your attorney notice errors or inconsistencies in records, you may be able to correct them by meeting with your doctor, but it’s always best to have them right the first time.
Whether it’s photos of property damage or injuries sustained, you need to preserve as much visual evidence of the event as possible. It’s best to have video either showing the event or photos from the immediate aftermath, but even returning to the scene after the fact and documenting any road signs, skid marks, or other landmarks can add context to the situation and be useful. The more evidence you have, the more credible you are as a claimant.
Hire a Lawyer
There’s little reason to go up against big insurance companies alone, and an attorney can help you with your initial claim and what comes after. If you’ve had a claim denied in bad faith, it’s time to hire an insurance bad faith attorney. They can offer you legal advice during a free consultation, and they generally operate on a contingency basis. This means you’ll only pay a percentage of your awarded damages if they win your case. Use Super Lawyers to find an attorney near you.
Keep Your Lawyer Informed
You might think your work is done once you have a bad faith lawyer on the case, but this isn’t true. You still need to be vigilant during your case and report any developments to your lawyer. This includes things like recovery progress and if anyone attempts to contact you regarding details of the case.
Prepare for the Deposition
If you don’t settle out of court with the insurance company, sooner or later you’ll have to appear at a deposition. This is where you’ll be questioned about the events that led you here. Your lawyer should be able to help you prepare for questions they’re likely to ask and protect you from any unfair questions. You’ll eventually need to testify in court as well before your case is over.
If you are a victorious plaintiff, you can recover damages for your medical expenses, legal fees, emotional distress, and you may even be awarded punitive damages depending on the extent of your losses.